On the Monday Morning NFL Podcast, Andy Benoit and Gary Gramling discussed the Jets’ firing of GM Mike Maccagnan, the reaction to it, and where the Jets sit now. Listen and subscribe to The MMQB Monday Morning NFL Podcast here. The following transcript has been edited and condensed for clarity.
GARY: This was kind of a good offseason happening in that it filled the news cycle. Though I feel like the doom and gloom stuff got a little bit out of hand.
ANDY: The Jets are getting treated like they're the marquee franchise of the NFL and Adam Gase is the most famous coach in the history of mankind.
GARY: I do think the unwashed masses upon whom we look down have some legitimate points as far as their freaking out. But I thought Mike Maccagnan was a dead man walking as soon as they hired a new head coach.
ANDY: I agree with you. Maccagnan’s name was floated on the hot seat a few months ago. What’s bizarre is the order of things. Maccagnan, it sounds like, along with Brian Heimerdinger who was their number two guy, was leading the coaching search. So they picked the very man who wedged them out.
GARY: That seems like how it played out. Albert Breer, who did a lot of good work on this one, reported that this was not a Doug Whaley in Buffalo situation, when Whaley was technically still the general manager when the draft came around but really Sean McDermott was running the war room.
ANDY: Gase even sat off to the side in the war room and distanced himself from the draft process because he’d felt like his input was not sought or welcomed. If that’s the case, that Maccagnan did not want his head coach’s input in the scouting process—I don’t know Mike Maccagnan but it’s hard to understand how anyone can get a GM job with that philosophy.
GARY: I’ll add this point, because Albert Breer hinted at this in some of his reporting, but there was maybe a little bit of cowardice when it came to this draft from Gase and the remaining guys. It’s almost like they wanted to hedge their bets and not really tie themselves to this draft class. And we talked about it plenty: 2019 was not a good draft class. They wanted to trade down but they could not. They stayed at 3, Quinnen Williams was on the board there, so you can’t really screw up that pick. But then they didn’t have a second-round pick. It was just going to be a low-impact draft for the Jets.
ANDY: It seems like no one really wanted to take the risk of putting their names on some of these decisions, which means that obviously the front office and coaching staff were not in lockstep. That’s almost always a problem in the NFL because it’s not like basketball or baseball where the positions do relatively the same thing from team to team. In football there are different schemes that ask different things of different players at the same positions. It’s ludicrous if a front office fails to seek out the head coach’s idea on what types of players the coaches want—and from what I heard Gase wasn't saying “I want this guy,” he was saying “Here’s the prototype that we look for,” and Gase absolutely has very specific prototypes.
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GARY: I want to make just one more point, and I’ll say this with the caveat that I rarely spend tens of millions of dollars over the course of a year. The signings the Jets made this offseason—the three big ones being Le’Veon Bell, Jamison Crowder and C.J. Mosley—I know they spent a lot of money and the sticker prices look big. But people are incensed that they fired Maccagnan after letting him spend all this money. But the Jets also had no other way to really spend that money right now. Their drafts were so bad in 2015, 2016 there was no depth in that 2017 draft, there are few in-house players they need to extend. And, basically, Crowder and Bell are on what amount to two-year deals and Mosley is on what amounts to a three-year deal. Now, they have to sign Leonard Williams—and they do have cap space to sign Leonard Williams. But they have literally no one else to sign in-house anytime soon. Their 2016 first-round pick, Darron Lee, is now traded and wasn’t very good while was there. When Jamal Adams comes up in two years, they could very well already be done with the Le’Veon Bell and Jamison Crowder contracts.
ANDY: That's the benefit, I guess, of having unsuccessful drafts. You get a lot of cap space later. The Cowboys, for example, are in a tough cap situation—I’m sure there will be people that kind of sideswipe and criticize them for not having the cap space—but the reason they're in that situation is because they’ve drafted so many good players. The Jets have the opposite problem, which doesn’t speak well for the GM, though there are many factors that go into draft picks not panning out and the GM who's picking them is only part of that. But you’re right, they've got the money to spend. I know when they went after Kirk Cousins, I said it didn’t make any sense because why would you think about drafting someone and then also pursue Kirk Cousins who’s going to cost four times more than what the guy you’re drafting costs, and they said their attitude was, well, we basically have a lot of cap space. The money is relative—it is not as valuable to them as it is to other teams because they have so much cap space.
GARY: That’s the short lesson there: If you don’t draft well or your draft picks don’t pan out, you spend in free agency. That’s just the way that the league works. Also, there were leaks about Gase’s thoughts on Le’Veon Bell. It sounds like he likes Bell but thought the contract was too much money. Again, it’s funny money for them. The Bell signing does not and will not affect their ability to acquire other players.
ANDY: Bell is going to change the face of Gase’s offense, by the way. He’s never had a Le’Veon Bell before. So he might have a different opinion once he’s schemed with Le’Veon.
GARY: He's going to find uses for Le’Veon Bell and I think those two will probably get along fine. And then, of course, there's the general manager search, which sounds like it’s going to be something of a farce—our Jonathan Jones has written about that. They seem to already have their guy lined up in Joe Douglas, the Eagles’ V.P. of player personnel. So it seems like just a matter of time until he's in there, and it sounds like Douglas is more aligned with Adam Gase. It’s tough to say they’ve “upgraded” at general manager, but it feels like this is going to be a little bit of a healthier situation.
ANDY: Your GM has to see the game the same way your head coach sees the game, or at least has to have a full appreciation for that. And if you don't then it's not going to work out. So if Douglas has a more congruent view of football in terms of how Adam Gase views it, that’s fine.
GARY: I guess the last point I want to make, Andy, is you look at the Jets, and all the takes the past couple days have been, Oh, the Jets are flushed down the toilet, this is it for the Jets, what a disaster, what an embarrassment… Well, they have Sam Darnold. It might take a year or two for this to meld properly, but this is a pretty promising roster. And I think Adam Gase is a really good coach. Everyone's looking at Miami right now saying, Miami’s just got to tank. They’re so bad. Well, Adam Gase just won seven games with that roster last year. He went to the playoffs with a Tannehill-Matt Moore combo at quarterback. If I’m a Jets fan, I feel pretty good.
ANDY: I'm with you. They're getting treated like that because everybody wants somebody to be a laughing stock. Some teams know what they want to do and just aren’t doing a great job of it, some teams are trying to find their way, but the Jets are not an outright embarrassment.
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